Table of the physical and mental condition of idiots in Massachusetts, 1847

Massachusetts Commissioners on Idiocy


Arranged numerically in order of examination.
Per Resolves 1846, c 117, the governor of Massachusetts appointed three commissioners to inquire into the condition of idiots (contemporary term for the mentally retarded) in the Commonwealth and what could be done for them. The commission's report, written by Samuel G. Howe of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind, led to an experimental school being funded for three years by the state (Resolves 1848, c 65). This report, based on a survey completed by municipal clerks (Returns of the survey of idiots in Massachusetts, 1846 ((M-Ar)1516X)), consisted of a written narrative (Massachusetts. Office of the Secretary of State. Passed resolves ((M-Ar)228, Resolves 1848, c 65), and a tabular data set compiled by Howe as a followup to the survey and based on his field notes (Field notes on the survey of idiots in Massachusetts, 1847 ((M-Ar)1827X)), consisting of this series.
Information for each person includes: name, town, age, weight, height, other physical measurements, type of retardation, personal habits, condition of parents and other relatives, intemperancy of parents, educability, self-support, comparisons with normal persons of temperament, skills, cranial development, and various mental faculties, remarks. Temperament categories are defined in an appendix.
The Experimental School for Teaching and Training Idiotic Children conducted at the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind from 1848 was incorporated by Massachusetts as the Massachusetts School for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Youth in 1850. It was renamed Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded in 1883 and Walter E. Fernald State School in 1925.
Microfilm Master negative microfilm also available.
Walter E. Fernald State School P.O. Box 9081, Belmont, MA 02478.
Agency history record (CStRLIN)MASVAH0049-A describes the history and functions of the Walter E. Fernald State School, an agency successor to the Commissioners on Idiocy.

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